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Here we go again! After deciding that the Nanaimo Bars really did work last time, I made another batch. Having to leave last night for Gosport straight from work, I realised I had left them at home in the fridge. Not a good start having to make an hour diversion before even leaving!

After arriving at the Clipper Office for 8.45am for the ISAF Offshore Safety Course, I notice a varying array of kit bags. There then followed a great debate on which were good and which were not – so much more useful than trying to decide when looking online or in a shop. Real people that have had to carry them can give honest opinions!

The course was being held at the Library in Gosport – a five minute walk from here, up the road and down the High Street. Didn’t know Gosport had a High Street. The Library was a very pleasant building, with what looks like an exceptional Coffee Shop. Will try that out later I think!

Nigel Rennie was taking the course today – an exceptionally experienced person in all sorts of situations. Apparently if you haven’t run your boat aground you haven’t been racing fast enough! Oh dear – what have I signed up for??

We were taken through the “dodgy racing yacht” – and I am happy to say I don’t think Clipper will ever be in that category. We picked up lots of tips how to “customise” your lifejacket, and what we may need and what we will never need. I also found out that May Day came from the French M’aidez. Never knew that! Hope I don’t need it!!

The Coffee Shop was just as good as it looked. The lovely home cooked food and cakes went down a treat for lunch – and to top it all it was proper coffee!

We continued in the afternoon on what can go wrong and how to deal with it. When Nigel demonstrated cupping his hands over his mouth when you are a man overboard to help with the cold water shock I thought to myself I hope I never need to recollect this scene – although I feel that it may remain with me forever! A chill ran down my spine.

He finished by saying that sailing has a very good safety record as a participant sport, but when things go wrong it often makes the headlines. Those are the sort of headlines no-one ever wants to make.

We set off back to the Clipper Office – via a small detour to Arthur’s Chandlery where one of the group had ordered some goods. It was a beautiful sunny day so we took our time – only to then meet Dawn who had been sent out to find us as it was thought we were lost. What hope do we have to get all the way round the world and back again if we can’t find our way from the library to the marina?

All gear collected, and the Henri Lloyd official jackets issued (looks like I’m really going then), we headed off to the boat. The first time on the “70” class, the class which we will actually be travelling around the world on. After going all the way around the marina, and then deciding the boat we needed was all the way around the other side, it was turning out that we really were bad on directions! When we did eventually find the boat, it was moored like a river cruise boat – up one boat, over the deck, over the rail and onto the one we needed. I am sure this is all set up to test me! I handed my box of Nanaimo Bars over to the skipper with a big smile on my face – he didn’t seem impressed. Oh dear – doesn’t look as if my bribery is going to work well this week!

Introductions followed – Jackie from Northern Ireland, Sally from the Isle of Wight, Ed from London, Steve from Chichester, Brian from Scotland and Kristof from Belgium but living in the Netherlands. Dave was the skipper and Carol the first mate. A small crew this week then! We had a safety briefing, and I bagged a bottom bunk again – yippee! Not sure how I am going to deal with an upper bunk – I am sure it is coming in the future at some point!

One of the crew was vegetarian, and one was gluten free with no onion or garlic. Our menus for the week will be based around this criteria – saves doing multiple choices each time. Sounds healthy too!

After dinner we all went to the pub – I must be improving. There would have been a time when climbing up over one boat and another would have put me off and would have stayed onboard for an easy life!

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